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November 6, 2023 25 mins

Many of Peter’s friends arrived at the crime scene before the police. Which meant that by the time the cops arrived, the scene had already been corrupted—and multiple pieces of evidence had gone missing. Years later, people would discover that evidence in some unexpected places.

This episode features information and audio from the following sources:

Who Killed Peter Ivers, Michael Bygrave

Quincy, ME

NBC News

CBS News

In Heaven, Everything is Fine by Josh Frank

'An Einstein among Neanderthals': the tragic prince of LA counterculture

Over the edge: The incredible life and mysterious death of Peter Ivers

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hey, it's me Allan again. Remember this show has explicit content,
and you should limit your consumption of loud music. You're
going to damage your hearing. Listen to discretion is advised.
I'm going to be reading from the car in his report,

and this is not the easiest thing to read.

Speaker 2 (00:25):
That's Alan Sachs again. He spent years trying to unravel
the mystery of Peter Iver's murder.

Speaker 1 (00:33):
On March third, nineteen eighty three, Beat cops responded to
a call at three point twenty one East third Street.
They arrived to the sixth floor loft in an old
warehouse building in downtown la not far from skid Row.

A mister James Tucker discovered his neighbor, Peter Rivers in
bed covered in sheets and a quilt with blood splatter
on the wall. Nearby. Ivers was lying in bed in
street clothes no shoes. There was a pillow over his

head which obscured a zigzag laceration on the right side
of his forehead. The medical examiner called it a bludgeoning.
He was pronounced dead at fifteen forty seven hours. Cause
of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Speaker 2 (01:40):
The last time anyone saw Peter Ivers was the night
of March second. He was at the Cave recording New
Wave Theater and then he dropped the bombshell. He was
quitting the show. He and David Jove got into a
huge argument, and then Peter got into his car and

drove off. The next day, Peter was discovered dead in
his loft. Whatever happened, we know that he made it
home and he probably died in his bed, but there
is a lot more we still don't know. That's partly
because Peter's case file is still sealed to the public,

but there's another reason. Important evidence might have been corrupted, destroyed,
or taken before the cops even secured the scene. So
today we're going to try to piece things together ourselves.
We're going to talk about the scene of the crime,
who was there, what they saw, and what it all meant,

and what the cops did or didn't do to solve
Peter's murder. I'm Penelope Spherus, and this is Peter and
the Acid King.

Speaker 3 (03:16):
I was supposed to go over his house to his
loft and but I so, you know, it was raining.
I called and he wasn't there, and he ordinarily would
have been there at the time I called, so I
didn't go because I didn't know what was going on.

Speaker 2 (03:36):
This is Anne Ramis on the morning of March third.
She's supposed to get together with Peter, but she can't
get a hold of him. So Anne starts to worry.

Speaker 3 (03:48):
It was very unlike him not to let me know
what was going on, you know, even if this car
had been some had some trouble, you know, which it
always did. He knew me well enough to have called me.

Speaker 2 (04:00):
She tries to go about her day, but before long
she's worrying again.

Speaker 3 (04:06):
It was raining, raining, and I thought maybe because of
the rain, you know, there'd been an accident or something.

Speaker 2 (04:14):
So Ann calls Jim Tucker. He's Peter's next door neighbor
and he actually worked on New Wave Theater too.

Speaker 3 (04:22):
I asked if he had seen him or anything, and
he said, well, the car was out there, and that
was a shock. I mean that he would be there,
he wouldn't have gone anywhere, and that I wasn't hearing
from him. So I told him to go check on Peter.
And he said, you have any reason to think that

there's anything wrong? And I said yes, because he hadn't
called me, and then he came back and he said
that there was blood all over the wall. And I said,
call the ambulance, Call an ambulance right away, and.

Speaker 2 (05:04):
Alone in her home, freaks out.

Speaker 3 (05:09):
And then I called my friend in New York and
the coonachey, and I gave her the number and I
said to call because I was just like, you know, flipped,
and she called to find out what happened. She called
me back and told me that he was dead. And
I remember saying, are you sure?

Speaker 4 (05:31):
You know?

Speaker 3 (05:31):
I mean, like, she's in New York and I'm asking
her if she's sure, and I mean, you don't. You
can't believe something like that doesn't make any sense.

Speaker 1 (05:43):
All right, let me go back a little. Here's what happened.
Jim meant this Peter's sleeping area to find Peter coven
in blood and his head smashed in whoa. He immediately
calls the cops, but it's not just the cops who
hear about it. All over town phones are ringing.

Speaker 2 (06:02):
Franny Goldie is waiting for Peter at a recording studio,
but she leaves after he doesn't show up. When she
gets home, she has a voicemail from Peter Rafelson.

Speaker 5 (06:13):
Calling me frantic, you know, call me the minute you
get home. I knew from the tone of his voice
and the urgency that something was terribly wrong. I just
remember calling him, falling to the floor, blood curdling scream,

and I just I couldn't stop.

Speaker 2 (06:43):
The reality was hard to face alone. Many of those
who knew Peter, they just wanted to be with each other,
to be with people who understood what they were going through,
and the idea that Peter could be dead was just
too hard to believe. So people started to Peter's place.

Speaker 1 (07:03):
David Jove is the first one to get to the loft.
After Jove, it's out of control. Ann and Harrow, Ramis
show up, Paul Michael Glazer, who played a cop on TV,
you know Stosky from Starsky and Hutch. People just kept coming,
And the crazy part is a lot of these people
get there before the police. The cops are taking their

sweet time.

Speaker 6 (07:26):
The only thing I know about the crime scene is
that it was chaos.

Speaker 2 (07:30):
That's Joan Renner. She's a writer who studies the history
of crime in Los Angeles.

Speaker 6 (07:35):
The police didn't arrive until after people have been tracing
through it, so they weren't able to secure it immediately,
which is what they like to do. So it was chaos.
Once that crime scene is compromised, that's a tough one.
You just can't you can't get that back, you know,
and that makes it really difficult.

Speaker 2 (07:52):
One of the people there was Peter Rafelson. He saw
firsthand how chaotic it all was.

Speaker 7 (07:59):
I had driven around the back and I spotted David Jove,
who was hiding around the back. I just remembered that
there was a back door that led to a stairwell
that was supposed to be locked or whatever, but nobody
was there, and I went in there and I found David.

He told me to come with him. We went up
a few flights of stairs and literally at eye level,
we could peer down the hall from that stairwell and
see what presumably was Peter Iver's dead feet covered in
a sheet, and cops and homicide investigators everywhere. And I

was like, David, you know, we gotta go. We gotta
go where we're not supposed to be here. This was bad.

Speaker 2 (08:57):
Here's journalist Stephanie Mendez. She's reading some excerpts from a
nineteen eighty five LA Weekly article about Peter's death.

Speaker 8 (09:06):
The detectives allowed friends to secure or check Ivers's car.
Let Robbie Green take away one of Ivers' briefcases, which
included his diary, and didn't keep the molding around the
loft door, which had been jimmied. A second team of
detectives later had to retrieve the molding from the trash.

Speaker 1 (09:24):
One of the things that goes missing is the bloody
blanket that was covering Peter's body. That's a pretty damn
important piece of evidence, and it just disappears. You kidding me,
Where the hell did that go? We'll come back to
that anyway. Here's the basic facts of the crime scene.
When he died, Peter was asleep, or at least in bed.

He was in his street clothes, his shoes were off,
and the lights are on in his room. And I
got to point out, this isn't that weird for Peter.
He often slept in his day clothes and with the
lights on. He was a quirky guy. Here's what else
we know. There was no evidence that Peter fought back.
There were no traces of drugs or alcohol in Peter's body.

Some of Peter's crazy clothes had been tossed out of
suitcases and thrown all over the floor.

Speaker 2 (10:16):
Some audio equipment was stolen, but a lot of other
equipment was left at his loft untouched. And there are
some other details that can't be confirmed, like the door
that was supposedly jimmied open. Well. In a later interview,
Lucy Fisher said that the door had actually been left unlocked.

Speaker 1 (10:39):
But what really gets me is according to the people
who went to the loft, they were the ones pointing
out clues and evidence to the cops.

Speaker 2 (10:48):
Here's Stephanie Mendez reading from Ela Weekly again.

Speaker 8 (10:52):
Very Far says it was left to him to point
out the Jimmy loft door, and David Joe says he
was the one who noticed a large luggage from one
of Ivers's suitcases lying in the doorway, whereupon a policeman
picked the tag up and put it in his pocket.

Speaker 2 (11:13):
Eventually, the cops begin to interview people of interest, Some
of them are Peter's close friends who are still in
shock for Scott.

Speaker 1 (11:22):
As Frannie Goldie gets called in by the cops.

Speaker 5 (11:25):
I remember there were some phone calls from the police.
They wanted to talk to me, They wanted me to
come down to the loft, and I was terrified, and
I remember this guy, Stuart Cornfeld took me. He said,

I'll take you because I was shaken. I couldn't draw,
I couldn't do anything.

Speaker 2 (11:54):
Stuart takes Franny over to Peter's loft.

Speaker 5 (11:57):
And I went with him to the loft, and just
knowing that he had been killed in the other room,
I was horrified.

Speaker 2 (12:13):
Can you imagine yourself in this situation. You've been asked
by the police to meet them at the place where
your friend has just been found dead. It's heartbreaking and
it's definitely not standard practice, by the way.

Speaker 5 (12:27):
And they were asking me if to smoke. I was
like yes, They said, are these your cigarettes?

Speaker 1 (12:37):

Speaker 5 (12:39):
And I had been with Peter the day before at
the loft at some point, and I guess because they
were fresh from the day before. Were you here, did
you see anything? I of course right away went to
are they thinking I did something? And you know, the

whole thing was super scary. And then they started showing
me pictures of Peter with Harold and his cronies from
college and asking me if Peter was gay and just
all different things.

Speaker 2 (13:18):
So the police are now interrogating Franny about Peter's sexuality.

Speaker 5 (13:24):
I'm like, no, he wasn't gay, and those are his friends,
but they were, you know, there were cops. They were
coming from a different place.

Speaker 1 (13:33):
You know.

Speaker 5 (13:34):
It's like guys in a picture together with their arms
around each other. They're gay.

Speaker 3 (13:38):
He was a flirt, we know.

Speaker 2 (13:40):
Here's Anne Ramis, she's talking with Alan Sachs.

Speaker 1 (13:44):
Mean, okay, so that's what I'm saying, that he was
a flirt, right, Okay, yeah, I mean, but yeah he was,
and that he was gay.

Speaker 2 (13:49):
He was mischievous, right yeah.

Speaker 3 (13:52):
I mean, I don't know if he ever had any
male experiences with male, but I know he certainly wasn't gay,
you know, exclusively.

Speaker 2 (14:01):
Here's Stephanie Mendez reading from La Weekly again. According to
the article, the cops zeroed in on Peter's lifestyle right away.

Speaker 8 (14:10):
The basic lines they wanted to know were what kind
of nightclubs Peter frequented, what kind of people he hung
out with. They were looking for that undersided nightlife aspect.

Speaker 2 (14:20):
Look, this was the early eighties, the Reagan era, the
beginning of the AIDS crisis. Maybe the cops were inclined
to look at being gay as somehow subversive or suspect,
And certainly the cops had their stink eye on the
punk scene.

Speaker 1 (14:37):
Look blaming what happened to that girl on music?

Speaker 9 (14:39):
Don't underestimate this particular kind of music, Quince. You tell
a kid, a vulnerable kid, over and over again, that
life isn't worth living, that violence is its own reward,
and you add to it the kind of intensity that
this music has, and you just might convince her.

Speaker 2 (14:56):
This is a clip from an eighties crime drama called
quincy Me. In this episode, a kid gets murdered while
slam dancing at a punk club.

Speaker 9 (15:06):
Let me take you down to one of these clubs.
You've got to see it with your own eyes to
believe it, Quins, I've seen children come off that dance
floor with crushed ribs and bloody faces, like soldiers fighting
some kind of insane war.

Speaker 10 (15:21):
You're not really saying that music can kill, are you?

Speaker 1 (15:23):
Yes? I am. I believe that the music I heard
is a killer. It's a killer of hope, it's a
killer of spirit. The music I heard said the life
was cheap and the murder and suicide was Okay.

Speaker 2 (15:34):
That's just a TV show, but it tells you something
about punk's reputation at the time. Punk was counterculture and
counterculture is always going to stir up the mainstream tide asses.
So maybe that's why the cops zeroed in on Peter's
lifestyle when interviewing Franny. Maybe they thought Peter got mixed

up in the wrong scene and paid the price. But
there were something else that may have influenced the cops
behavior that day. Location, Location, Location. Here's Stephanie Mendez reading
again from an la Weekly story about Peter's death.

Speaker 8 (16:13):
Peter Taylor, who lived with Ivers and Jim Tucker in
the loft, says, I think the police handled the whole
thing in a pretty strange fashion. They didn't seem too concerned.
I guess this area is a real hotbed of murder activity.

Speaker 2 (16:29):
Peter lived just off of skid Row and that made
it a lot easier for the police to dismiss his death.
In nineteen eighty two, around the time New Wave Theater
got picked up by USA Network, Peter moved out of
his Laurel Canyon house and into a downtown loft. Here's
Russell Buddy Helm. He played music with Peter.

Speaker 11 (16:51):
He desperately wanted to come downtown and get a law
and I said, no, Peter, You're not wired for you
from Harvard. You know you got a degree in dead languages. No,
you're driving a ragtop, you know, Alfa Romeo. No, you
should not be in downtown at La.

Speaker 2 (17:05):
Actually it wasn't in Alpha. Peter was driving a shitty Fiat.
But Russell's point still stands anyway. In Peter's eyes, the
benefits of living downtown greatly outweighed the risks. The atmosphere
and the feeling.

Speaker 12 (17:21):
It was like anything can happen.

Speaker 2 (17:24):
That's Steven Seemeyer, an artist who lived downtown at the
same time as Peter.

Speaker 12 (17:29):
If I was doing a performance piece, if I was
going to be at Second in Alameda, doing a performance
in a building, in an old warehouse, I would call
fifteen people, and those fifteen people would call fifteen people,
and we'd do hand flyers and we'd post them up
in the areas, you know, all around downtown, and then
you'd go and you'd do your performance and like two
or three hundred people would show up. If you can

make your rent in one or two days, then that
means the whole rest of the month you're in your
studio make an art.

Speaker 2 (17:57):
Amazingly enough, you could actually make that work financially. Back then, I.

Speaker 12 (18:02):
Had one painting studio down there that was ten thousand
square feet. My rent for that ten thousand square foot
studio was seventy five dollars a month.

Speaker 13 (18:11):
What I remember about the loft, it was a very
sort of classic downtown La loft at that point, and
there was like a bedroom sort of area. There were
a lot of musical instruments and microphones set up.

Speaker 2 (18:25):
That's Vio Aramis Harold and Ann's daughter.

Speaker 13 (18:29):
There was maybe some kind of kitchen, but it was
just like, you know, anybody could go there and do
any art they wanted, and people were like lying on
some pillows over here. There was like a little yoga
meditation area over there.

Speaker 2 (18:46):
The loft is six thousand square feet. There are some
common areas, and Peter has his own private space where
he sleeps.

Speaker 13 (18:53):
I mean it was sort of like if you could
empty out your creative brain and make it into a
physical living space. I mean it was kind of like
the perfect artist left.

Speaker 2 (19:09):
The space may have been perfect, but the location wasn't
for everyone. Going back for decades, skid Row has been
ground zero for homelessness in Los Angeles. Here's Gary Blazy.
He's a lawyer who's been advocating for the residents of

skid Row for more than forty years.

Speaker 4 (19:32):
Skidrow was really sort of created in a political compromise
in the late seventies under what was called a containment plan.
If you wanted to open a service for around house
people or anything like that, if you really could only
be in Skidrow. So basically the number of people on
the streets really exploded in between eighty two and eighty four.

Speaker 2 (19:55):
So you have an area filled with thousands of unhoused people,
and unfortunately it means that it was a place often
ignored by the cops.

Speaker 4 (20:05):
Sort of in the culture of LA, there was this
those are theirs, this really nasty, scary underbelly of LA.
And so it was, and I think it really disrupted
the nineteen fifties white picket fence suburban concept of LA.
I don't think the schedule Staber is Schedrow slasher. Those

were not stories that got picked up.

Speaker 2 (20:29):
The skid Row Stabber and the skid Row Slasher are
serial killers who operated in the nineteen seventies. Together they
killed at least twenty people, but they were only two
of the serial killers operating in LA.

Speaker 1 (20:49):
The Hillside Strangler, the Sunset strip killer and freeway killer.
LA was the serial killer capital of the world at
this time. They're but enough bodies over a wide enough area.

Speaker 10 (21:01):
It has strongly suggested more than one killer. What police
say they really don't know. In Los Angeles, a killer
the police are calling the Hillside Strangler has murdered ten
young women and left their bodies on the hillsides along
the highways. Today the police found another number eleven.

Speaker 1 (21:20):
They think one of the serial killers who roamed around
in the early eighties was Richard Ramirez, the knight Stalker.
He killed at least thirteen people. Serial Killers often targeted
people the police didn't care about, sex workers, gay men,
cruising vulnerable people.

Speaker 14 (21:39):
Young women, particularly prostitutes, are widely known as the serial
killer's most likely target. Yet with all the attention to
female victims, the public sometimes forgets that more than a
third of all those murdered are male.

Speaker 2 (21:56):
Listen, we're not saying Peter was killed by a serial killer.
As far as we know, there's no evidence of that.
What we're saying is that the police may have perceived
Peter a guy who wears pink sequin jackets and lives
near Sciared Row as just another statistic of la crime.
He could have been an easy target for the bad guys.

After a brief investigation, the cops pushed Peter's case aside
without ever charging a suspect or establishing what exactly happened.
Here's Anne Ramis, She's talking with Alan Sachs.

Speaker 3 (22:46):
But this seemed like they weren't really interested.

Speaker 2 (22:50):
The police. The police, they didn't want.

Speaker 11 (22:52):
To deal with it.

Speaker 2 (22:53):
They still don't why. It's a question we keep asking ourselves.
The day Peter was killed, we were just processing the
shock of it all. But after things calmed down, after
the chaos subsided, there was something else we all had
to do. We had to say goodbye. But even as

people were mourning, they were also starting to wonder was
Peter's killer walking among us.

Speaker 15 (23:23):
Everybody was just sort of looking for answers. And what
was weird was everybody was pointing fingers in the other direction.
The movie people thought the punks did it. The punks
thought that the movie people did it. It was just
fucking crazy.

Speaker 7 (23:37):
I was so confused at what was going on, because
you know the way it turns out is you're sitting
there going like, who killed my best friend?

Speaker 2 (23:47):
Next time? On Peter and the Acid King. We paused
to mourn Peter and the vibrant scene that faded away
with him. Peter and the Acid King is based on
interviews recorded and researched by Alan Sachs. It's produced by

Imagine Audio, Alan Sachs Productions and Awfully Nice for iHeartMedia
I'm Your Host Penelope Spears. The series is written by
Caitlin Fontana. Peter and the Acid King is produced by
Amber von Schassen. The senior producer is Caitlin Fontana and

the supervising producer is John Assanti. Our project manager is
Katie Hodges. Our executive producers are Ron Howard, Brian Grazer,
Caarra Welker, Nathan Kloke, Alan Sachs, Jesse Burton and Katie Hodges.
The associate producers are Laura Schwartz, Dylan Cainrich and Chris Statue.

Co producer on behalf of Shout Studios Bob Emmer. Design
and mix by Evan Arnette, fact checking by Katherine Barner.
Original music composed by Alloy Tracks, Music clearances by Barbara Hall,
voiceover recording by Voicetracks West Show artwork by Michael Dare

Special Thanks to Annette van Duren, Thank you for listening.
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